That's not the response I expected tonight.
Marc Denis allowed 5 goals on 23 points in the loss before being spelled by Karri Ramo who allowed 2 goals on 5 shots the rest of the way. Just a bad spot for the kid to get into. Dan Boyle had both Lightning goals and Vincent Lecavalier had a pair of assists. Vaclav Prospal and Martin St. Louis added individual helpers.
The Lightning squandered an opportunity to climb to even with the Thrashers with the loss after having watched Atlanta lose an afternoon game to Pittsburgh. With just six games left to go in the season, the Lightning remain two points back with one head-to-head matchup left in the finale of the regular season.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
Khimik defeated Kazan in a shootout 3-2 in Game Three of their quarterfinal playoff series. Kazan's lead in the series now slips to 2 games to 1. Dimitri Kazionov was scoreless in the match for Ak Bars.
Omsk shut out Yaroslavl 2-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their quarterfinal playoff series. Evgeny Artyukhin did not play for the Lokomotive.
Maine 4 - St. Cloud State 1
East Regional Semi-final
Maine welcomed back goaltender Ben Bishop and played one of their best games of the season to knock off St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Mike Lundin picked up an assist on Michel Leveille's first period goal on the powerplay.
UMass 1 - Clarkson 0 (OT)
East Regional Semi-final
UMass continues its postseason heroics as they knocked off No. 1 seed Clarkson in overtime. John Wessbecker finished scoreless and even in the game while recording 4 shots on net.
Maine and UMass will now meet again in the East Regional final with the winner advancing to the Frozen Four. The two teams have met four times in the last month with UMass winning all four games. The Minutemen swept the final weekend series of the regular season then followed it up with a sweep of the Black Bears in the first round in the HEast tournament. The stakes are higher and Maine will have starting goalie Bishop back who missed both series due to injury.
Darren Reid's revenge.
Jonathan Boutin allowed 6 goals on 34 shots in the game. Springfield got 2 goals and 1 assist from David Spina to go with 1 goal and 2 assists from Kyle Wanvig and a trifecta of helpers from Eric Healey. Stephen Baby had the other Falcons goal and rookie Andy Rogers added an assist as did Boutin. Healey was tapped for third star of the game honors.
Former Lightning prospect/Falcon Darren Reid had 1 goal and 2 assists in the game. Since leaving Springfield, Reid has 16 goals and 27 points in 38 games with the Phantoms and has received a couple of cups of coffee with the Flyers. I think it's fair to say the change of scenery worked for him.
As an aside, I hope the Lightning organization manages to wrap up David Spina's services for Norfolk next season. It's unlikely they'll retain Healey and Cavanaugh, in my opinion, and Milley and Corso may not be holdovers either. Spina, however, is a player the Lightning should try to retain in their minor league organization after spending two years developing him.
SPR Wanvig, (15) (Healey, Spina), 0:58
PHI Reid, (17) (Cullen, Kane), 17:19 (PP)
PHI Cullen, (11) (Kane, Reid), 3:34 (PP)
SPR Spina, (11) (Healey, Wanvig), 12:00
PHI Cullen, (12) (Kane, Davis), 15:23
SPR Baby, (3) (Healey, Wanvig), 17:08 (PP)
PHI Guenin, (3) (Ellison, Timonen), 18:45
PHI Cabana, (3) (Meloche, Zingoni), 6:38
SPR Spina, (12) (Rogers, Boutin), 15:42
PHI Cullen, (13) (Reid, Kane), 18:53
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
Every game now is a must win, and when you don't they put one more shovel full of dirt on your coffin.
Morgan Cey allowed 4 goals on 33 shots before being replaced by Ryan Munce who stopped all 5 shots he faced the rest of the way. Maxime Boisclair had the only Chiefs goal from Andrew Martens and Zbynek Hrdel. Hrdel now has a three game point streak. Johnstown remains six points out of a playoff spot with three games in hand on Reading.
DAY Cullen, (10) (Walton, Reid), 2:57
JHN Boisclair, (16) (Martens, Hrdel), 9:53 (PP)
DAY Anderson, (1) (Konsorada, Ford), 18:59
DAY Tifu, (26) (Reid), 5:09
DAY LeClair, (5) (Konsorada, Kelly), 10:13 (PP)
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
Sudbury 5 @ Mississauga 4
Sudbury leads best-of-7 series 1-0
The Sudbury Wolves stole home ice advantage from the IceDogs tonight getting a lead early and holding on for a 5-4 win. Chris Lawrence did not perform up to expectations in his first playoff game since the 2005 playoffs. Lawrence was scoreless with a minus-2 rating for Mississagua. He also had a penalty for checking-to-the-head with just over a minute to go and his team down by one. Game 2 is Sunday in Mississauga (2-2-1-1-1 format).
Owen Sound 3 @ London 6
London leads best-of-7 series 1-0
Owen Sound outshot heavily-favored London 2-1 (48-24) but London got 4 goals and an assist from Illinois-native and former Yale University Bulldog David Meckler (LA Kings) to defeat the Attack 6-3. Marek Bartanus was scoreless and even for Owen Sound. Game 2 is Saturday night in Owen Sound (1-1-1-1-1-1-1 format).
Prince George 3 @ Kamloops 2 (Overtime)
Prince George leads best-of-7 series 1-0
The Prince George Cougars got a goal at 4:38 of the first overtime from Nick Drazenovic (STL Blues) to take away home ice advantage from Kamloops and give Prince George a 1-0 lead in their opening round series. Vladimir Mihalik, playing in his first WHL playoff game, was scoreless and minus-1. Game 2 is Saturday in Kamloops (2-2-1-1-1 format).
Spokane 2 @ Everett 4
Everett leads best-of-7 series 1-0
The Silvertips built a 4-0 lead before Spokane got two back in a penalty-filled third period. Everett leads the series 1-0. Dane Crowley was scoreless and plus-1 with 2 PIM for Everett. Game 2 is tonight in Everett (2-2-1-1-1 format).
Four Lightning CHL prospects are in playoff action starting tonight in the OHL and WHL. A look at the matchups:
Ontario Hockey League â€“ Eastern Conference
3 â€“ Mississauga (43-21-0-4) vs. 6 â€“ Sudbury (29-30-3-6)
Chris Lawrence and the IceDogs had the second best record in the Eastern Conference this year, but will have the No. 3 seed as East Division Champion Belleville automatically gets the No. 2. Mississauga and Sudbury split in 6 games this year, with one of Sudburyâ€™s 3 wins coming in a shootout. Lawrence led all IceDogs in scoring against the Wolves this year with 4-3-7 in the 6 games. The series begins tonight in Mississauga. Lawrence and IceDogs did not make the playoffs last season.
Like a great prize fighter, the Lightning continue to summon up the will to fight past any adversity.
Marc Denis made 34 stops for the win. Martin St. Louis broke his goal scoring slump with a pair of talleys with the other Lightning goal going to the suddenly hot Jason Ward. Brad Richards, Nolan Pratt, Eric Perrin, Vincent Lecavalier and Cory Sarich all had assists.
The win coupled with Atlanta's loss to San Jose moves the Lightning back to within 2 points of first place in the division. And, with one head-to-head matchup on the schedule, the team's division title destiny is back within its hands. Huge win tonight.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
And the season continues to grind down to the bitter end.
Interesting note for those looking for silver linings: Keller's goal totals pro-rate to about 20 goals for a full season had he not missed so much time with the injury he had in December. That's not a bad rookie campaign, especially for a player who is so undersized. That's something to build on, which is critical. Aside from Chris Lawrence, there's not much scoring help coming through the pipeline with the possible exception of the X factor that is the Kazionovs. So, whatever solutions to the minor league offensive woes there can be for next season have to come from within and have to come from the young forwards already under contract stepping up.
HER Werner, (1) (Laing, Arsene), 4:10
SPR Keller, (12) (Henrich, Milley), 8:41 (PP)
HER Tenute, (22) (Wilson, Klepis), 6:37
HER Miles, (1) (Hedlund), 11:40
SPR Wanvig, (14) (Healey), 3:54
HER Bourque, (20) (Steckel, Laing), 15:46
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.